I am a huge The Walking Dead fan starting with the comic book series in the mid 2000’s. When the boom period of The Walking Dead has hit the mainstream media, so too did Walker Stalker Con/Fan Fest.
It was a great opportunity to not only meet your favorite stars of the television series (along with more actors and actresses from different television series), but to also see them speak to the fans live at a the panels. I covered one of their shows back in 2016 and it was a blast and I was hoping to go back the next year, but that did not happen. But if you were to tell me that a convention as big as a scale as Walker Stalker Con gone from having thousands of attendees in one weekend to having less than a few hundred four years later, I would have said that it could not happen. But that came to reality at last weekend’s Fan Fest in Nashville. I will get to the crap show in a moment, but here are many reasons why that this show should go away for good.
Fan Fest is owned by James Frazier. Remember that name because he will be on this article a lot! He founded the event back in 2013 and it was a massive hit with the community and the attendees. Huge A-list actors and actresses were there such as Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kit Harrington, Danai Gurira, Stephen Amell, Melissa McBride, etc. For these events, it was the only time that fans can meet them face to face and get their picture with them and an autograph too. As the time went by, there were rumors that speculated that James owed the bigger name talent money. James neither confirmed or denied those rumors at all, but more signs of this came too light as select talent started to part ways with James.
As that happened, the attendance rate begin to decline. James Frazier stated that this happened due to the decline of the popularity of The Walking Dead, but this proves to be untrue due to the fact that the stars of the show are at different conventions and their table is usually full with a long line (I seen this happen at other conventions and I can say that those lines for stars like Austin Amelio, Khary Payton, Lindsley Register, and others are very full).
The truth is, fans stopped attending because they were also owed money as well. Picture this, you pay up to $1000 for a VIP experience (side note, if you pay for that experience at one of their shows, you will also have to pay extra to get a photo/auto with the talent) to meet Norman Reedus.
He cancles his appearance and then you are trying to get a refund. But no, the chances of you actually getting a refund is as low as winning the lottery as you either do not get a response from an email, or you will have to wait up to a year. This happened to a large amount of attendees and what is more disgusting about this is that FF/WSC ocassionally false advertises talent appearances and once the talent finds out about this, they outright let their fan base know that they are not attending.
Back in the summer, Khary Payton and Cooper Andrews were the first stars of The Walking Dead to publicly announce that they have served ties with WSC/FF and after that, more stars begin to disassociate with the event and James Frazier himself.
It got much worse when media outlets such as ComicBook.com and the local news started to pick up on the story of how fans and talent were treated by James. Also to add, I believe the one star of The Walking Dead that got treated the absolute worst of them all is Angel Theory. Angel was verbally assaulted by a member of the security team last fall at Walker Stalker Con because she had her service dog at her table.
Angel is hearing impaired so her dog was needed at the area and the security guard decided to take it upon himself to cause a scene for no reason. This also looked very bad on James Frazier because he failed to give Angel (and also the attendees at that show) an American Sign Language interpreter at that show. Angel (and also co-star Nadine Marissa) did a live video on Instagram detailing their horrible experience with James Frazier and how the entire incident affected them along with James owing them money. They both has since disassociated with James Frazier and started to appear on different conventions since then.
Also on that same day, two more incidents happened within hours of each other. The first, an attendee and her mother were told to leave the convention by a security guard without giving them a reason. He just told them two that they were not allowed to come back to the event.
How can a guard do that when they did absolutely nothing? I believe that he messed up and kicked out the wrong people and did not want to admit that he was wrong. Those two also paid over $1000 for a VIP experience and they were treated poorly. Did you think that James Frazier cared? Nope! The second incident took place right before the day finished as I will not fully blame the volunteers because they had to deal with James’ nonsense and they were not even paid at all. Keep in mind that James left the building when this happened so you know damn well he most likely ignored all of the calls and texts.
The printer that prints the photo ops stopped working and there were attendees that did not receive their photo ops at all. The volunteers tried their best to take care of everyone in this situation, but it only half-worked as only a small number of attendees got their photo ops after the machine was fixed and for the ones that did not get their physical photo op, they had to get theirs via email and for the ones that tried, only a very few actually got. This happened due to the photo ops company serving ties with WSC/FF about a week prior so picture the chaos of trying to get a new company within that time frame.
All of this can be seen on Ronny Haze’s (Make A Path Presents) discussion video and it is far worse than what I described.
A few days after the mess of Atlanta, James Frazier stepped down as the CEO and made a short statement: “Today, I’m turning it over to new leadership and stepping down. I will no longer have any decisions in the direction of the company and it’s daily management. I will make sure that they are up to speed on each issue and make myself available to assist them in any way that would help them succeed.”
Michael DeVault became the new CEO as he wanted to fix everything that happened and he promised that the next show in Nashville will happen and that he will work on making sure that everyone gets refunds and will only work on a $1 salary until everyone is satisfied.
That sounded promising on his video, but the reality came as he was as useful as Eric Bischoff’s run as the head director of Smackdown on FOX and they both have something in common and that is, they both did not last. The only difference here is that Michael only lasted a few days and Eric lasted a few months. Michael resigned as the CEO and it made me think the entire time that he was there just to be the “fall guy” as Bischoff was when something got bad and what Michael stepped in was already a sinking ship.
Fan Fest Nashville took place last weekend and the only Walking Dead related stars that were there were the prisoners from season 3. Select cast members of Sons of Anarchy were also there, but that did not save the show as there was less than 100 people over there for both days! That was very telling that this show could be the last ever show. I have never seen a big show fall this fast. And not only was the attendance very low, but Michael DeVault was there showing his face in all of this making a mockery to attendees that talked bad about him.
But the joke is sure on him because there was no bag check, no security in the front, no shirts for VIP attendees, and no weapon check. Also, it seems like nobody was running the show all weekend and that tells you how outlaw they are.
Now I am not the type of person to knock somebody while they are down, but because James treated attendees and the talent unfairly for up to almost two years at this point so he needs to be dealt with whether if it is a class action lawsuit, or anything else in that matter. You not only owe it to the fans, but to also the talent that you also owe money to as well. I will never understand how James Frazier got greedy. For a company that was once “for fans, by fans”, they turned into “for money, by money” very quick. I hope that Fandemic Tour wipes away the harsh memory of Walker Stalker Con/ Fan Fest for good.